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A co-worker who fails to fulfill his job duties can be infuriating and demotivating, especially if you are a dedicated employee who always gives 100 percent. A lazy co-worker can have a negative effect on the entire company's operations as well as employee morale. While it may be tempting to silently fume or gossip, to pick up the slack, or to run to your boss, you can nip this common workplace annoyance in the bud by being proactive rather than reactive.
Lead by example. If you find yourself criticizing another's work habits, be sure your own habits are scrupulous and beyond reproach.
Get the facts. Determine whether your co-worker is really not doing his job or whether this is just your perception of the situation.
Be compassionate. Remembering that your co-worker is, like you, human and flawed can help you hold the person in a place of compassion. If you have an attitude of superiority or judgment against your co-worker, there is very little chance of finding a resolution.
Do only your share. You might feel tempted to pick up the slack for your co-worker and do more than your share, but this is essentially just enabling his habit. Taking on your co-worker's duties can contribute to your stress level, as you will be doing twice the work. It might also cause resentment. By refusing to do more than your share, you are setting a clear boundary.
Confront the co-worker. Ask to speak to your co-worker privately, and tell her, honestly and compassionately, how her behavior makes you feel and how it affects your own work. Tell her, too, that you have not involved any other employees or superiors and that you are hopeful you can work it out between the two of you. Seeing that you have taken the time to approach her as an individual might make her more receptive to your requests.
Hear your co-worker's side. After confronting your coworker, allow him to reflect on your observations and to offer his own side of the story. You may be surprised by what you find out.
Involve another co-worker. As a final measure before going to the boss, attempt to involve a fellow colleague and approach the unproductive co-worker together. Be honest and compassionate and allow the co-worker to share her side of the story.
Involve your direct boss as last resort. If you still do not see an improvement in the co-worker's performance after talking to her on your own or with a colleague, bring it to your direct supervisor or boss. Without showing anger, blaming or accusing, tell your boss about the behaviors you have noticed and the measures you have taken to remedy the situation before coming to her.
Parker Janney is a web developer and writer based in Philadelphia. With a Master of Arts in international politics, she has been ghostwriting for several underground publications since the late 2000s, with works featured in "Virtuoso," the "Philadelphia Anthropology Journal" and "Clutter" magazine.